The New York World, May 31, 1914


Pastor Russell's famous photo-drama of creation beautifully pictures our Lord's ascension and the subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The educational value of pictures is well known; and the public are very appreciative of the drama as a means of instruction along biblical lines. Wherever it is presented, large crowds are in daily attendance.

The pastor's text today was: "When He ascended up on high, He led a multitude of captives." Eph. 4:8, margin.

It is appropriate, began the pastor, that on this day, celebrated as the anniversary of Pentecost, we should have well in mind what we celebrate. Ten days ago was the anniversary of our Lord's ascension. In one sense of the word, our Lord Jesus ascended at the time of His resurrection from the dead; for then He left the human nature and the tomb for the divine nature and immortality. He tarried, however, for the space of forty days after His resurrection, that He might establish and instruct His apostles.

During that time He was invisible to them, except when He manifested Himself by appearing miraculously in various forms to convince them that He was no longer dead, and that He was no longer confined to human conditions that His resurrection had made Him a spirit being again, on a higher plane than He was before He took human nature for the suffer ing of death in order to redeem humanity.

The pastor went on to explain carefully that during the period between His resurrection and His ascension our Lord taught His followers not alone by His words but also by His conduct. They had not yet received the Holy Spirit, the speaker declared, and hence could not understand or appreciate spiritual things. They could therefore receive instruction only along natural lines.

Jesus was raised from the dead a spirit being, far above angels, principalities and powers. Had He gone directly to the Father without manifesting Himself to His disciples, they would not have been able to understand the truth of the matter. Hence their lessons were given them largely in pantomime, corroborated by the Master's words, explaining that it was necessary for Messiah to die in order to redeem the world, and that it was also necessary for Him to rise from the dead and to ascend on high and re-enter the spiritual plane of existence in order that from that higher plane of being He might be the more capable of filling the great office of prophet, priest and king for mankind.


After forty days during which He was invisibly present with His disciples, except on the few occasions when He manifested Himself for a few moments each, our Lord ascended to heaven. Ten days afterward the Holy Spirit came from the Father upon the waiting household of faith. The outpouring of the spirit evidenced to them that they were justified freely from all things through the merit of the Redeemer's sacrifice, that their consecration to sacrifice themselves had been accepted of the Father, and that thenceforth they might count themselves as joint sacrificers with Christ, members of His body, members of "the church of the first-borns, written in heaven," members of the seed of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth are to be blessed.

The pastor then demonstrated that only Jews received the pentecostal blessings. Until three and a half years thereafter, in harmony with a divine promise made to the Jews, the gentiles were excluded. Then the time came for the gospel to go to the gentiles. The record informs us the Cornelius was the first gentile to be received into spiritual relationship with God. Until God's due time for "the middle wall of partition" between Jew and gentile to be broken down, he could not receive the spiritual blessings. Even then he was received not because of his works and prayer, but because of faith in the redemptive sacrifice offered upon Calvary.


The apostles were to bear witness to the resurrection of Jesus; but Judas, having lost his place, which was given to St. Paul, it was proper that the latter should also be able to bear witness to Jesus' resurrection. Recounting those who had seen our Lord after His resurrection, St. Paul says, "Last of all He was seen of me also, as of one born before the time." Jesus appeared to St. Paul in the glory of His spirit being, "shining above the brightness of the sun" at noonday. The sight caused injury to Saul's eyes.

The pastor then pointed out how inappropriate and unsatisfactory such a manifestation would have been if the Redeemer had so appeared to the eleven during the forty days following His resurrection. They could not possibly have identified the glorious personage who shone above the brightness of the noonday sun with the Lord Jesus, their friend, their teacher. But to Saul of Tarsus the revealing in fiery light, above the noonday glare, was very appropriate. It convinced him in a manner that no human appearance could have equaled that Jesus was no longer a man and that He was no impostor. St. Paul's conversion was instantaneous.

It should not cause us to marvel that Jesus ascended, as He declared, "up to where He was before," said the pastor. It should not sur prise us that the apostle declares that our Lord ascended in dignity and station far above angels, principalities and powers, and above every name that is named. On the contrary, it would be both equitable and Godlike that the great Jehovah should highly honor His [HGL591] faithful Son, the first and last, the beginning and the ending of the creation of God. Could we, he asked, for one moment suppose that our great Creator would permit this faithful Son, or any servant, to lay down life in the divine service and to suffer loss as a consequence of his obedience? Is it not much more rational to believe, as the scriptures declare, that "Him hath God highly exalted"?


Pastor Russell called attention to the apostle's phraseology in the context that the one who ascended had previously descended, and that the descending and ascending were related as cause and effect. The one who has ascended on high completely fills the highest position in the great divine government of the universe as head of principalities and powers, angels and men next to the great Jehovah. Yet, as the apostle warns us, we must not identify this glorified one with the one who in obedience to the Father's will came down from heaven and as a man humbled himself unto death, even the ignominious death of the cross. The apostle calls attention to these two extremes of humiliation and exalta tion both accomplished in the Son of God, the Logos, the Messiah, the Christ.

The pastor then showed that if some of us at one time had supposed that our Lord Jesus ascended to heaven in a physical condition, as a man, we had entirely misunderstood the scriptures. To suppose that Jesus went to heaven a man, the pastor maintained, is to mistake the significance of His title, the Son of Man, which He preserves as identifying Him with His great redemptive work as one of His many titles. To suppose that Jesus is in heaven a human being, he declared, is to suppose that He is still, as when on earth, "a little lower than the angels," whereas the scriptures state that He has ascended far higher, so that not only men but also all the angels of God are commanded to worship Him. To suppose Jesus in heaven a human being is to suppose Him out of all harmony with heavenly surroundings and spiritual conditions.

Moreover, the speaker queried, are we not told that the Church of Christ will be changed from the human condition to the spiritual condition in the resurrection, and that this change will make them like their Redeemer, so that they may see Him as He is, not as He was; that they may see Him in glory, honor and immortality exaltation and not as the one who in humiliation was made flesh that He might sacrifice His flesh on behalf of the race of Adam? Answering his own question, he declared that when we so thought we forgot the scriptural assertion that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." This statement of scripture implies that all who become partakers of the divine nature and share in the heavenly kingdom with their Lord and Redeemer must be made like Him by the power of the first resurrection.


The pastor declared that he had found worldly wise people very skeptical respecting the descent of the Logos, the Son of God, to earthly conditions, but that Christians seem to have more difficulty than does the world to comprehend the ascension of Jesus to the spirit plane and its excellent glory. Both points, however, are important. Whoever is unable to see that the Logos, the glorious Son of the Highest, humbled Himself, divested Himself of the spirit nature and took instead the human nature, cannot see that Jesus was sinless. And those who cannot recognize that He was holy harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners, cannot believe in the sacrifice of Jesus as being a ransom for Adam, to effect his release and that of his posterity from condemnation to death.

Pastor Russell went into considerable detail respecting the method by which the Logos was transferred from heavenly conditions to earthly conditions. He showed that the purity of the Logos, His perfection of organism, His freedom from sin, was preserved, notwithstanding the fact that He was born of an earthly mother who was not free from the blemishes of the Adamic race. The speaker proffered his hearers, free on application, a treatise entitled "The Undefiled One," which he believes shows scientifically the process used of God by which the Logos was changed from the higher to the human nature, yet preserved immaculate.


The error of supposing that Jesus is still a man was shown to signify the denial of His statement that He would ascend up where He was before, and of St. Paul's teaching that He has been highly exalted to glory and distinction the divine nature, instead of the human nature. This error, the pastor declared, has led to other errors, one of which he cited, namely, that made by many Christian people of expecting the second coming of Jesus in the flesh as a glorious man and not as a glorious spirit, partaker of the divine and altogether disassociated from human nature. Thinking of our Lord at His second advent as a glorified man, they associated Him with a material throne and an earthly court. The unreasonableness of this error leads other Christian people in an opposite direction. Realizing that such an earthly kingdom would be a step backward rather than forward, they deny the second coming of Christ to establish the long promised Messianic kingdom.

The proper thought, the speaker declared, is that Jesus accomplished in the flesh the work which the Father had given Him to do when He sacrificed His earthly life. The Father rewarded Him gloriously by exalting Him to the highest spirit plane. Now our glorified Lord is waiting for the gathering of His elect, His church, His bride. These are to share in His resurrection to the divine nature and to sit with Him in His throne. Then the kingdom of Messiah, so long promised, will begin to bless the world, using as its earthly representatives, visible to men, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the ancient worthies mentioned in Hebrews 11.


The pastor then showed that his text figuratively represents the ascension of our Lord from the earthly plane to the heavenly as the triumph of a great conqueror. Sin had gained ascendance over Adam and his race, and had brought them down to the dust, mentally, morally and physically. Moreover, this victory over mankind had been gained in a legal manner through the one man's disobedience. The Logos divested Himself and His glory on the spirit plan, was made flesh, fulfilled the demands of [HGL592] the law, proved Himself competent to pay the sinner's ransom price and "gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." Having finished His sacrificial work, He was again received to the spirit nature with exceeding glory and to the right hand of God.

Thus, he continued, the great conqueror is seen returning to the heavenly state, acclaimed by the heavenly host, and far down the centuries the prophetic view sees following Him a great procession. First comes the church, the royal priesthood, His brethren, delivered from the power of sin and death through the merit of Jesus' blood. These are only the vanguard of an advancing host; they are "a kind of first fruits to God of His creatures," rescued from sin and death. Later on, for a period of a thousand years beyond the deliverance of the church, the pro phetic pen foretells countless hosts of every nation, people, kindred and tongue, to be delivered from the power of sin and death through the merit of Him who died on calvary.

Then will come the glorious consummation, the pastor said. When all who will have refused divine grace shall have been destroyed in the second death, then shall be heard every creature in heaven and on earth saying, "Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever."


The pastor then explained that at our Lord's first advent began "the acceptable year of the Lord" the time when God, having accepted the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, became willing to accept the sacrifices of all who desire to become His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him through good report and evil report, even unto death. The entire gospel age, he declared, antitypes Israel's atonement day; and the sacrifices of our Lord and the church are the "better sacrifices," foreshadowed by the bullock and the goat offered typically by the Jews. This antitypical atonement day is "the acceptable year of the Lord," as Jesus pointed out, God's faithful people of this acceptable day are glad to be invited to "present their bodies living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God." In the end of this accept able day will come the end of all opportunity thus to sacrifice the human nature and become joint heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.


After the gospel age has passed away, the pastor declared, there will be a new period introduced styled in the Scriptures "The Times of Restitution." The acceptable day for the sacrifice of the church has lasted for nearly nineteen centuries, he said; and the Scriptures clearly indicate that the times of restitution will last a thousand years. St. Peter tells us just when these times of restitution will begin. They will begin as a result of the second establishment of His kingdom. Then "times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; whom the heavens must retain until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began." Acts 3:19-21.

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